Customer Experiences: One Style Does Not Suit All

customer experience: one style does not suit all

A few weeks ago, I received an invitation from the Lee Jeans’ world headquarters in Kansas City to be a part of a focus group. It was a small group of about eight guys, varying in age from mid-twenties to mid-sixties, and we were asked to give our opinion on a new line of men’s shorts that will be introduced into the market next year. The shorts were made of very light, almost mesh-like, “breathable” fabric that is meant to provide much cooler comfort than typical shorts. After each member of the group was given the opportunity to try them on, we were asked to share our thoughts.

Not surprisingly, even though the shorts were made of quality material, not everyone was a fan. Other than the raves that came from the few twenty-somethings of the group, the garments received tepid reviews. And, the needle of approval didn’t budge, even when it was revealed that these shorts would be a bargain—selling for less than $30 at Kohl’s (before coupons). As a member of the older demographic, they’re just not my style—and chances are that the Lee Jeans company had already determined that and are also OK with the fact that over-forty males are not their target consumer. Their ideal customers are not only younger, they are perhaps more active and style conscious. Lee Jeans is also keenly aware that one style does not suit all.

“When it comes to the delivery of the customer experience, your approach cannot be a “one-style-suits-all.”

Your business works the same way. When it comes to the delivery of the customer experience, your approach cannot be a “one-style-suits-all.” There are certain people who will absolutely love your product or service and enthusiastically rave about it to their family and friends. But, there will also be many others who simply won’t see the point or value in what you’re offering no matter the price. That’s why it’s so important to identify your ideal customer before designing the experience you want them to enjoy.

As a writer for an industry publication, I know that some of my views and opinions will not appeal to every reader. There’s no such thing as one-style-suits-all. But, if you’ve not abandoned this article thus far, though, you are the reader my style and purpose for writing are designed to help. I know who you are, and I can describe you to a “T.” You are self-motivated, talented, creative and very good at what you do as a small business owner. But, you’ve been in business long enough to know the value and benefit of being inquisitive, open minded and constantly on the lookout for ways to improve yourself and grow your business. You embrace continuing education and on-going training as vehicles to achieving your goals. That makes you my ideal reader. I’m also enough of a realist to know that not everyone will share in my point of view or find value in what I offer through my writing. And, I’m OK with that.

“Your purpose for existing as a business and the experience you deliver are not going to appeal to everyone.”

Want loyal customers who not only like and trust you, but also place great faith in your products or services, will pay handsomely to enjoy the features of your business, and give you rave reviews to boot? Let's talk.Trying to appeal to the masses would test my sanity and place the principles of my non-negotiable purpose in jeopardy. My writing is aimed at a smaller, niche readership—YOU! I’d much rather write for people who enjoy the information I contribute as much as I enjoy contributing that information. That type of relationship is a win-win for you and me. For you, I’m fulfilling a need and you are rewarded with ideas that will, hopefully, make you better at everything you do in your business life. My reward comes from knowing that in some small way I may have changed your life for the better. You might also enjoy what I’ve written so much that you convince your friends to read my articles and then share them with their friends. And, I’m better than OK with that!!

This mutual respect is the same type of relationship you want with your customers. Your purpose for existing as a business and the experience you deliver are not going to appeal to everyone. That’s not what it is designed to do. It should be targeted at your ideal customers—the ones who bring you the greatest happiness to work with and who allow you to do your best work. But, exactly who are your ideal customers? Can you describe them to a “T?” To make that determination requires answers to some important questions that cover everything from basic demographics to what and who influences their buying decisions. The more you know, the more powerful you’ll be.

“…create a picture of your ideal customer using words and images that are so rich and vivid, just about anyone could conjure up a vision of what they look like.”

Write down everything you know about your ideal client. What do they look like? What is their highest level of education? What is their occupation or profession? How much do they earn? How old are they? How creatively inclined are they? What are their interests? Are they conversationalists? Are they into having fun or are they more reserved? Are they a country club or VFW kind of client? What do they fear most? Who do they admire? What is it that they want most? Who are their friends and influencers? What do they talk about? Looking back on all of the customers and clients you’ve worked with in the past, what are the traits of those who you’ve enjoyed working with the most? What do they believe? The idea is to create a picture of your ideal customer using words and images that are so rich and vivid, just about anyone could conjure up a vision of what they look like.

If you really want to get inside your buyers’ heads, do a focus group with your customers. Pick a few of your current and past customers and set up a time to chat. Ask the right open-ended questions, and you’ll learn what they love about you, what they don’t like about you. as well as what inspired them to choose you over your competitors. That information will help you complete the picture of your ideal customer.

“Life is too short to be unhappy and being unhappy stands in the way of producing an extraordinary experience for your customers.”

Here’s why this effort is important. If you’re happiest working with your ideal customer, why would you want to work with someone that doesn’t fit your profile of ideal—or who makes you unhappy? Isn’t that one reason why you started your own business, to do what you enjoy doing most with and for people who appreciate what you bring to the table? Isn’t it better to work with individuals who respect your abilities and who enjoy working with you as much as you enjoy working with them? We’ve all been told that the customer comes first. I agree whole heartedly with the following caveat. I believe that your well-being as an entrepreneur and business owner deserves equal consideration. In any lasting relationship between two people, both must be happy for that relationship to last, right? If I was required to write about topics that didn’t stir a passion in me, that didn’t make me happy, or if I felt unappreciated for my efforts and disrespected as an author—I wouldn’t invest my valuable time in writing. It would become a loathsome chore instead of something I look forward to doing. Life is too short to be unhappy and being unhappy stands in the way of producing an extraordinary experience for your customers.

“…if your customers don’t make you happy, you’ll find it nearly impossible to make an emotional connection, let alone create an amazing experience for them to enjoy.”

Keep this in mind, if your customers don’t make you happy, you’ll find it nearly impossible to make an emotional connection, let alone create an amazing experience for them to enjoy. If your work is more of a burden than a joy, how easy do you think it will be for you to (or even want to) exceed expectations? You don’t have to book every customer who comes along simply because they have a checkbook. If you’re doing that, STOP IT! The customer experience is never one-style-suits-all. It should be designed exclusively to appeal to your ideal customer. You’re putting yourself and your business at risk by working for individuals who will not appreciate the experience. They will not only drain you of time and energy, they can cause irreparable damage to your reputation and brand.

To paraphrase author Michael Port in “Book Yourself Solid,” you are in control of the potential customers you allow to pass beyond your red velvet rope. If they don’t match up to your idea of the ideal customer, you have the right and responsibility to yourself, your business, your happiness and, more importantly, to them to refuse their “entry.” Be as selective as they are and know that the customer experiences your business provides will be appreciated and touted most by those for whom it was intended.

“There are plenty of people who need your solutions and who will pay top dollar to enjoy the experience that comes from your conviction and commitment to excellence.”

There’s no such thing as one-style-suits-all! Be OK with the idea that you and/or the experience you provide is not going to sync with every customer’s needs. Don’t jeopardize your purpose—that thing I refer to as your “why,” your reason for being in business is a non-negotiable and a direct reflection of who you are as a person and, as a business. It also defines your brand and differentiates you from your competition. Don’t worry. There are plenty of people who need your solutions and who will pay top dollar to enjoy the experience that comes from your conviction and commitment to excellence.

I came across a great quote from an unknown source that reads, “Bad News: You’re not going to fit in with everyone. Good News: The great ones never do.” Go be great!

As always, I invite your questions and feedback in the comments section below..

Ron Ruth  |  Keynote Speaker, Customer Experience Design Consultant & Coach, Founder of the #Inspiramaginativity Institute.


Contact Ron to speak at your upcoming event or to provide a special, Customer Experience training session for you and your team – email ron@ronruth.com or call (816) 224-4487.

“Ron is a fun and informative presenter who engages audiences with demonstrations of #Inspiramaginativity—a blending of inspiration, imagination and creativity— and a powerful tool for sparking innovative solutions to the greatest business challenges and for transforming satisfied customers into loyal, raving fans.” – Rick Brewer, WeddingBusinessMarketing.com

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